CNN town hall with Tom Steyer

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8:19 p.m. ET, November 10, 2019

Our live coverage of Tom Steyer's town hall has ended. Scroll through the posts below to see how it unfolded.

8:29 p.m. ET, November 11, 2019

5 key lines from Tom Steyer's CNN town hall

CNN
CNN

Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer just wrapped up his CNN town hall from Iowa tonight.

In case you missed it, here are five key lines from the event:

  • On the impeachment inquiry into President Trump: Steyer said he thinks "the court that counts is the court of public opinion."
  • On recent campaign scandals: Steyer argued that his reaction to those scandals is what voters should focus on. "Unauthorized things happen (in campaigns) and the question is what you're going to do about them. In both those cases, we did exactly what I think is appropriate. We went in, we figured out what happened, we took action," he said.
  • On the climate crisis: If elected, Steyer said he would use the emergency powers of the presidency “to make changes immediately."
  • On anti-Semitism: Steyer laid some of the blame on the recent spike in anti-Semitism on Trump. "How a president acts is a guide for everybody in society," he said.
  • On Michael Bloomberg: Steyer took early aim at Bloomberg, a fellow billionaire. "Unless Mr. Bloomberg is willing to accept a wealth tax, I don't believe he can be an appropriate nominee for the Democratic party," he said.

8:24 p.m. ET, November 10, 2019

Why Lincoln, Churchill and Mandela are Steyer's political role models

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

When businessman Tom Steyer looks for a role model, he said he looking for "the person who can explain the world in a new way so it makes sense again."

"What I believe is the biggest thing that anybody in politics can do is to re-explain the world when the country is lost," Steyer said.

The Democratic presidential hopeful then went on to explain why certain political figures are important to him. Here's what he said:

  • Abraham Lincoln: "He re-explained what it was to be an American."
  • Winston Churchill: "He re-explained the role of England in the world." 
  • Nelson Mandela: "He re-explained what it was to be a human being on this planet."

7:55 p.m. ET, November 10, 2019

Here's what Steyer thinks about national referendums

Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer said he would support a move toward national referendums to pass laws in the US if it was done carefully.

"I do think it has to be done carefully. I do think the rules are important, but I trust the American people. I've traveled around this country, I've talked to people. I believe Americans are decent, brave and compassionate. And if we're going to break the stranglehold these corporations have on our government. to me it's going to mean more democracy, giving power directly to the people ... breaking up structurally, including getting rid of the idea that corporations are people," he said.

Steyer continued: "We're going to have to make some changes ... But what we have right now is so broken, that we're going to have to do something differently. And I'm going to trust the American people. And we're going to design it in a way to try to make it as careful as possible. But they're going to have to make structural changes.

Why this sounds familiar: The the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a bitterly fought referendum in June 2016.

7:55 p.m. ET, November 10, 2019

Steyer: Judge me by how I responded to scandals

In South Carolina, an adviser for Tom Steyer resigned after being outed for accessing volunteer data compiled by Sen. Kamala Harris' campaign. In Iowa, a Steyer adviser resigned after being accused of offering money in exchange for endorsements.

But on Sunday night, Steyer argued that his reaction to those scandals -- and not critics' suggestion of a culture of impropriety -- is what voters should focus on.

"Unauthorized things happen (in campaigns) and the question is what you're going to do about them," he said. "In both those cases, we did exactly what I think is appropriate. We went in, we figured out what happened, we took action."

By immediately acting to secure resignations from the individuals accused, Steyer said, his campaign was actually functioning as it should.

"That's exactly what you look for in an organization -- that you have rules that are enforced by the organization when something that is not proper occurs," Steyer said. "You deal with it with the highest possible integrity, you actually walk the walk of doing the right thing, and then you move on."

8:06 p.m. ET, November 10, 2019

Steyer says the climate crisis would be his number one priority if elected

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Businessman Tom Steyer said the global climate crisis would be his “number one priority” if elected president in 2020, and said he would declare a state of emergency on climate on his first day in office.

The Democratic presidential candidate said if elected he would use the emergency powers of the presidency “to make changes immediately." He added that the threat the climate crisis poses is only “getting worse.”

He said he would ask Congress to pass a version of the Green New Deal in the first 100 days in office.

“I’ve spent over a decade fighting oil companies and beating them at the ballot box. I've led the charge for clean energy across the country at the ballot box,” Steyer said. “I’ve worked to stop pipelines. I've worked to stop fossil fuel plants. We're talking about the future, but you can look at my history and know that this is something that is an absolutely top priority for me.”

He added he does not fly private, and said he hopes nobody else running for the Democratic nomination will choose to fly private.

7:33 p.m. ET, November 10, 2019

Steyer says Trump is giving comfort to anti-Semites

Asked about a recent spike in anti-Semitism, Tom Steyer laid some of the blame at the feet of President Donald Trump.

"How a president acts is a guide for everybody in society," Steyer said, noting a rise over the past few years in hate crimes.

To impose his own vision, Steyer promised he would use law enforcement and seek to set a better example.

"It's a question of both using the Justice Department to oversee it and that's an easy thing to day," Steyer said, "but the way that you behave and the way you treat people and the signals that you give are incredibly important."
7:31 p.m. ET, November 10, 2019

Steyer explains why his parents drove him to public service

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Businessman Tom Steyer opened up about the positive influence his parents had on his life.

Steyer's mother was a teacher and his father was a lawyer who he said ended up prosecuting Nazis in Nuremberg.

"And their point was they felt so lucky to be Americans that they felt if you're going to be a good American you're going to give as much back to the country as they felt they'd gotten the great fortune even as depression and World War II babies of having been born here and everything they got from the country," he said.

Steyer said he took their life lessons and applied them to his own future. The father of four said he wanted to earn enough money to take care of his family but he also wanted to have a meaningful life.

So Steyer started "the giving pledge to give more than half my money while I'm alive to good causes  and I really started full time organizing of Americans to stand up for our rights against what I thought was unchecked corporate power."

"And that's why I walked away from my business and did it full time because I felt like if I'm going to -- if there's a reason it for me to be walking on the planet, I want to be part of a positive force in this country and a positive force on this planet," he said.

7:25 p.m. ET, November 10, 2019

Steyer says he supports public option approach to health care

Businessman Tom Steyer said if elected President he would build on the current health care system and push for a public option, or a government-backed insurance plan.

“I happen to be one of the people who believes in a public option, giving people the option basically of joining Medicare, but allowing 160 million people to make the decision for themselves,” Steyer said.

Steyer said many union workers have negotiated to get health care through their employer.

“And I don't think it's right for the government to tell them that we're going to scrap a 75-year-old system. If you like it, keep doing it,” he said. “If the public option is cheaper and better for you, then you can go to your employer and say pay me the money you're spending on my health care, I'll buy the public option."